University Of Tasmania
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The Greek language of healing from Homer to New Testament times

posted on 2023-05-27, 14:51 authored by Wells, M L S
The problem of suffering has preoccupied mankind since the earliest times. From the time of Homer to the present day humans have constantly searched for a solution to their suffering and an understanding of it. This study focuses on two expressions of this search through a study of the Greek language of healing: the healing cult of Asklepios, which flourished in the Mediterranean world from the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD, and that of Jesus of Nazareth, whose healing ministry began in the first century AD, supplanted that of Asklepios in the fourth century AD, and is still in existence today. The investigation does not consider whether physical healings actually occurred; rather it is an exploration of the meaning of the general terms used to describe the healings recorded. The study is in two parts: Part One begins with the use of healing language in the work of Homer, and traces the development of this semantic field through a study of the language surrounding the cult of Asklepios at Epidauros, Athens, Kos and Pergamon. These four centres were chosen because they illustrate the differing nature of the cult over the period of its existence. Epidauros was a major colonising sanctuary, and remained a major centre of pilgrimage throughout its existence; Athens became a state cult and so illustrates a parochial and familial quality; Kos was the centre of a major medical school; and Pergamon was both the cult focus of a major hellenistic monarchy, and the site where the great Galen practised medicine. Thus a focus on these four centres allows a study of a breadth of sources, from before the time of Hippokrates until the time of Galen. Naturally the study of sources is not exhaustive. A selection was made from as wide a field as possible to illustrate the use of general healing terms in inscriptions and literature over the longest possible timespan. After a bridging survey of the Jewish use of this semantic field in the Septuagint, together with complementary material from Philo of Alexandria, and Josephus, Part Two focuses on the meaning of the same semantic 'field in the New Testament. A linguistic survey of Hebrew and Aramaic documents is excluded, as being outside the scope of the topic, in terms of both space and relevance. The study is in two volumes: Volume One contains the argument, Volume Two the texts and translations (or analysis of texts) on which the argument is based. Usually only the primary texts in which language has been discussed are cited in the bibliography, otherwise reference to primary sources is made by the usual method in footnotes. Central to this study are the human concepts of health and wholeness, and of the relationship of mind and body, spirit and soul, and the language used to express these concepts and relationships.


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Copyright 1993 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1994. Includes bibliographical references (v. 1., leaves 239-258)

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